I am looking at a table of three old ladies tapping away at iPads, while a heavyset woman breathes instructions into a lineman amplified over the speakers of a monitor that displays her own iPad’s screen. Between labored huffs, I catch something about time zones and geographic locations. Eyes peer over rims of glasses to clutched devices. There is some more wheezing into the microphone – why is it so goddamn close to her mouth? – no matter, Cupertino has just been name checked. A blue shirt whizzes by me, catches my scowl and spins. Earlier, I have made a mental note looking at another blue shirt wearing a woolen knit winter hat, that all employees must be encouraged to wear a piece of clothing that expresses a relaxed individuality, or faux-relaxed individuality, as I am sure Jobs in his jeans and turtleneck never put anyone in the room at ease. The blue shirt buzzing by my head now is a bookish, yet attractive female, sporting fashionable trousers.
Beaming, she inquires if I am soaking up any of the free iPad instruction. Her exact words turn to mush in my head. I do not respond; I just stare at her in existential anger. She recognizes I am beyond the pale, blubbers something unintelligible, and vanishes. I wonder if I am an asshole, but quickly dismiss this train of thought when a man in a tie-dyed ball cap, lugging an iMac box, wanders up beside me. The man’s calf is twitching. Though he is probably in his mid-to-late 60s, he has the calves of a runner, each the size of a grapefruit.
His level of fitness is useless in Apple-land though, and he looks totally bewildered. Someone has instructed him, like me earlier, to wait by the wall of digital doo-dads, off-brand health monitoring gadgets, drones, and rainbow array of device cases. Also instructed to wait at the wall are an irate woman and her child, a man in baggy clothes who appears to be wearing a wig not unlike Bo Duke’s hair from The Dukes of Hazzard, and a final man, an everyman, who has been there prior to my arrival. The Everyman paces up and down the wall, switching his attention between the wall’s stock of trinkets and the void of the store’s floor. “The Everyman,” I think, “has always been at the wall, he is a metaphor for all of us,” and with this thought, I cast my eyes back to the sea of the two hundred-some people who make up the post-Jobsian sea of raging and utter alien nonsense.
The man in the tie-dye hat leans in, “Are you in line?” It is a very Minnesotan question. In the two years I have lived here, I have become aware that people are very concerned about their queuing. It is not like the Northeast where, “If you snooze, you lose,” and lines, while necessary, are most likely European in origin, and accordingly to be treated with suspicion; so, if there is a way to circumvent one, you do it because you deserve that strawberry milkshake far more than that fat idiot who has bent down to tie his shoe – the fool.
The man in the tie-dye hat is not asking this question because he is Minnesotan though, polite, or was possibly a hippy as a younger man who let his peace-loving ways evolve into a Zen-ten-miles-a-day followed up with yogurt and granola. He is asking the question because he is genuinely confused. In the store there are no lines, no cash registers, no apparent system; there are only blue shirts and everyone else floundering about oversized Ikea-like blonde tables.
“No, I don’t think there is a line,” I reply. “But what about that one outside of the store?”
The man in the tie-dye hat is talking about a line outside of the store, which stops abruptly ten feet before the entrance, like someone turned it off. The people outside are waiting for the iPhone 6 that has been released weeks prior. I begin to explain this to him when I am summoned to a table in the center of the store, where a new colony of depressed and resigned souls wait. This new table means, “I’m up soon.” As I depart, I wave to the man in the tie-dye hat and wish him luck; yes I literally say, “Good luck,” in a vague attempt to reconnect with my own humanity, for I know I will never see this man again. He understands we are both pawns in the myth of the consumerist machine, waves, and smiles.
Everything falls away before my eyes, the people, the formless store, knowledge, time, my own body. I start making vast leaps in logic and thought – Steve Jobs is a myth, Capitalism is a myth, Marxism is a myth, postmodernity, Freud, even Lacan – later the thoughts will evaporate, but for now I am lucid – nothing can help explain “this,” all that exists is the idiocy before us. I am brought back to the fray when I arrive at the table and look at my laptop bag, momentarily wondering, if my computer breaks, whether I should get a new one. I know the answer. I will. I am blind.